The April issue of Bon Appetit came in the mail a few days ago, and in it I came across a recipe for cornish game hens with mango mole sauce. The recipe is in the Reader's Favorite Restaurant Recipes section, and it was requested by one of said readers who had the dish at La Casa De Las Sirenas in Mexico City while on vacation. I absolutely love mole-pronounced molay- it is an incredibly romantic sauce, if such a thing exists. The toasted, exotic spices mixed with plaintains, chilies, sesame seeds, and (in this case) mangoes, pureed to a smooth shine and then mixed with (what??) chocolate! How could this lustful combination fail to ignite the romantic spark in the one who consumes it? Problem is, especially after having seen Like Water for Chocolate, a great movie with many romantic references to mole, I always thought mole was something to be prepared by an expert with a stockpile of spices I had never heard of. Turns out, there are infinite variations on the sauce, and this one took less than one hour, start to finish, including getting all of my ingredients out onto the counter. Chad and I had this mango mole with a roast chicken, black beans and rice, and tortillas on the side.
Mango Mole Sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 8-ounce plantain, peeled, sliced
1 cup diced peeled pitted mango*
4 large dried guajillo or ancho chilies, (about one ounce) stemmed, seeded, deveined, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
12 whole unblanched almonds
2 T roasted salted peanuts**
2 T sesame seeds
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small bay leaf
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/8 t ground cinnamon
2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 3.16 ounce disk mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
*I used canned mango slices
**I left the peanuts out and added slightly more almonds and sesame seeds. Personal preference!
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add plantain and next 11 ingredients. Saute until plantain is soft, about 8 minutes. Add 2 cups broth. Cover; simmer until chilies are tender, about 15 minutes.
Working in batches, puree sauce in blender; return to skillet. Add chocolate. Bring to simmer, whisking until chocolate melts and thinning with more broth by tablespoonfuls if sauce is thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made two days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving and thin with more broth if necessary.
My favorite way to roast a chicken is: Heat roasting pan on stove at medium temperature and place chicken (rinsed and thoroughly dried, then generously salted) in pan, breast side up. Place pan in a 475 degree oven for 30 minutes, then flip the chicken to brown the other side. Roast for about 20 more minutes, then flip once more and roast for 10-15 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for at least ten minutes before devouring! You can also stuff sprigs of thyme under the breast skin. This cooking time works for a chicken that weighs about 3-3.5 pounds. Or you can buy one already roasted from the grocery.